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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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More Blessed to Give
22 July 2003 (All day)
"Let me not so much seek to be consoled, as to console ... to be loved as to love," says the St. Francis prayer. Now, science has come up with empiric confirmation of the spiritual truth that it's better to give than to receive.
It's been well established that social contacts have a positive effect on health. Now psychologists at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor say they've teased out the active ingredient in that effect: It's the giving. A group led by Stephanie Brown reports in this month's Psychological Science on a 5-year study of 423 elderly married couples. Each individual was surveyed at the beginning as to the amount of "instrumental" support (help such as rides, errands, and child care) they gave and got from friends and relatives. They were also quizzed on the emotional support they gave and got from their spouses.
Over the course of the study 134 participants died. The researchers found that getting a lot of support did not have much effect either way on mortality. But even after controlling for numerous factors, including age, sex, physical and mental health, and socioeconomic status, the emotional givers showed a 30% reduction in mortality risk. And the reduction was even greater--42%--for the instrumental givers.
University of Michigan psychologist Toni Antonucci says she agrees with the authors that "we have underestimated how important giving is." Brown suggests the study could help lead to changes in treatment of chronically ill or elderly people: Interventions designed to "help people feel supported" may need to be changed to focus on "what people do to help others."